Imagine a room the size of Bell Auditorium. Picture it filled with hundreds of costumed teens, ear-splitting music and a cacophony of cowbells, air horns and screaming moms.
No, you haven't wandered into a Columbia County high school graduation ceremony.
It's a cheerleading competition.
Ever the reliable chauffeur, I drove my daughter and her mom this past weekend to the Gwinnett Convention Center for her first cheerleading competition. Mine, too.
I thought I knew loud from couple of years ago when I took Annie to the arena next door for a concert by teen singer Hillary Duff. That was before JamFest. During the cheer competition, a mom sat behind me, encouraging her tumbling youngster with a single-note, ear-splitting scream that stopped only when she refilled her lungs for the next prolonged burst. An air horn would have been more pleasant.
Mostly, though, cheerleading competitions seem to be about waiting. Lots of waiting. The girls spend 2 1/2 minutes on stage in tightly choreographed rolling, tumbling and holding each other up in the air (or dropping each other, which seems to happen a lot). The rest of the time - about six or seven hours - are spent waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Those 2 1/2 minutes, though, are high-energy fun, a demonstration of athletic ability and the payoff for the exhausting practice from all those young girls (and a few young boys).
Next time I'll bring more to read. And earplugs.
Honors for 'boys'
Don't know if anyone else noticed, but the two living men being inducted Tuesday into the CSRA Business Hall of Fame are both good Columbia County boys.
Well, they aren't exactly "boys" anymore. But E.G. Meybohm and Pierce Blanchard are of solid, old-family Columbia County stock.
Meybohm, who now runs the area's largest real estate company, once was best known as a star basketball player at Harlem High School. He later returned to Harlem to work as a teacher and coach before going into the real-estate business.
Blanchard, a banker, is the son and namesake of long-time Columbia County school superintendent John Pierce Blanchard. His younger brother, Pat, was inducted a couple of years ago into the hall of fame, which is administered by Junior Achievement of Augusta.
The "historical" inductee this year is the late Peter S. Knox III, who passed away in 1996. His family hails from Thomson.
Not just a 'holiday'
Tempted as I am to look the other way and say "No, they couldn't have," an item crossed my disheveled desk the other day that was impossible to ignore.
Included in a one-line item on the meeting agenda for one of the Columbia County Commission's committees, under the heading "Christmas Tree Lighting Event," was a description that referred to a "Holiday Tree for the Memorial Garden."
Argh. Please tell me we aren't going to go through this again.
The county later backed away from that nonsense. Good. I'm not aware of any other holiday that is celebrated with a tree as one of its prominent symbols. Even if there is one, I'm sure we don't publicly celebrate it around here anyway, so it's not like we're trying to avoid confusion.
We went through all this last year, when the nation seemed to hit a peak of both political correctness and a backlash from it.
For crying out loud: It's a Christmas tree. And the one in the Memorial Garden? We'll light it up on Saturday, after singing Christmas music.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106.
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